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Charles Westley -speach

EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF COMMON GROUND THEATRE 2010-2020

Common Ground Theatre regrets to announce the untimely death of 46-year-old Charles Westley Patmon, Jr., the Executive Artistic Director of Common Ground Theatre from 2010 until his death on January 31, 2020. Charles was a highly accomplished and creative actor and director who had many stage and screen credits in his profession, including the film, "In the Heat of the Night." Charles's first experience with Common Ground Theatre was as assistant to Common Ground Theatre's late legacy Artistic Director, Dr. Floyd Gaffney, in several of his final productions, including Dr. Gaffney's last production, "Josephine Tonight," in 2007. As director of Common Ground Theatre for almost a decade, Charles was known to actors under his leadership as one who "could see a diamond in a piece of coal" as he guided actors to reach their highest potential. He was a true theatrical genius.

Charles directed numerous productions in his decade as Common Ground Theatre's Artistic Director, including several popular variations of Langston Hughes' holiday production Black Nativity. He also directed Cheryl West's Before It Hits Home, Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enough, Art Cribbs' Awaiting Judgment, August Wilson's Fences, Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown's The Wiz, Regina Taylor's Crowns, Garry Sherman's Christmas Is Comin' Uptown, Keith Antar Mason's For Black Boys Who Have Considered Homicide When the Streets Were Too Much, S. M. Shephard-Massat's Waiting to Be Invited.
Charles Patmon Jr. created the San Diego Theatre Artists Repertory School (STARS) at Common Ground Theatre in order to train young actors, ages 12 to 18, in all aspects of theatre arts, both onstage as actors offstage as crew members. The students participate in major productions either during or immediately after training.

Charles grew up in a highly religious home with six siblings and their father and mother, Pastors Charles Westley Patmon, Sr. and Joyce Patmon. He sang, prayed, and recited in church from a very young age and was such an enthusiastic Christian that he earned the nickname "Church" in College. He received the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from Alabama State University under the mentorship of Dr. Stewart who herself was mentored by Charles' other mentor, Dr. Floyd Gaffney. He had completed all requirements for the Doctorate of Education at the University of Southern California and was scheduled to graduate in June 2020.

Charles will be sorely missed by members of the Board of Directors and by all of the actors and students he directed and educated through the years. Our sincere condolences are expressed to his parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews. May he Rest in Peace until we meet him again.